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Volume 21 No. 1
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Forty Under 40: David Greenspan


Company: Winston & Strawn LLP
Title: Partner
Age: 37
Where born: Abington, Pa.
Education: University of Pennsylvania (B.A.), University of Pennsylvania Law School (J.D.)
Career background: Straight from law school into private practice
Family: Wife, Beth; children Morgan (7) and Max (3)

Favorite app: Words with Friends.
Favorite way to unwind: Pretty much anything with my kids; they are nonstop comic relief.
Guilty pleasure: “The Walking Dead.”
Worst habit: Pastrami. (Yes, it’s a habit.)
Cause supported: Hassenfeld Children’s Center of NYU Hospital.
Person in the industry I’d most like to meet: Chip Kelly. He’s an innovator, leader, shrewd and witty — and happens to be the coach of my favorite NFL team.
I have a fear of … : Heights.
Most adventurous thing I’ve ever done is … : Climb Half Dome in Yosemite (considering the previously mentioned fear of heights).
2014 will be a good year if … : I can teach my 3-year-old son how to throw a tight spiral.


David Greenspan is already an old hand at sports law, even at age 37, having worked at the side of Jeffrey Kessler in many of the major litigation battles of the past decade, from the NFL lockout to NBA strife.

But as is often the case with sports lawyers, Greenspan stumbled into the discipline. Greenspan was toiling at Dewey Ballantine in commercial litigation as an associate when, in 2003, a new hot-shot partner was hired for the firm: Kessler. An introduction quickly ensued.


SBJ Podcast:
Executive Editor Abraham Madkour and project editor Mark Mensheha talk about the Forty Under 40 selection process and the class of 2014.

“Within a few weeks, I didn’t do another piece of work for another partner and quickly latched on with Jeffrey,” Greenspan said.

Among the cases he’s handled is the 2006 Ashley Lelie bonus forfeiture case. With Greenspan working for the NFLPA, that case saw the wide receiver, who was traded from Denver, forced to repay certain money he had already received from the Broncos, but he was notably able to keep his option bonus money.

But Greenspan’s favorite case was a more recent one: the New Orleans Saints’ bounty imbroglio. He favors that case because, in his eyes, the NFL lost the case, and the process was expeditious. Under court pressure, the NFL appointed former commissioner Paul Tagliabue to review the suspensions, which he then vacated.

“At the end of the day, it was a great result,” Greenspan said.

His least favorite case: The Terrell Owens case, in which an arbitrator upheld the Philadelphia Eagles indefinitely suspending the star wide receiver. “The result was very frustrating and very incorrect,” he said.

As for working with Kessler, his longtime legal colleague and an attorney seen by owners as one of the most adversarial in the business, Greenspan said Kessler is largely misunderstood.

“Jeffrey is a big personality,” Greenspan said, “and that can be misconstrued. He is a pragmatist.”

— Daniel Kaplan